I mentioned that both the political left and right are oppressive to Joel Salatin and others like him. I just love this book. Every chapter had me shaking my head, determined to be more conscious in my food-acquisition efforts. He blasts both sides: The big businesses who lobby for special status in a sea of burdensome regulations - or support those very regulations, knowing they're the only ones who have the ability and resources to jump through such hoops (this is applies to far more than food production, by the way), and the do-gooder environmentalist that thinks government is the answer to all the earth's ills, and in his ignorance makes things worse. Joel gives an example of the poor agricultural practices that were polluting the Chesapeake Bay... Dairy farmers were applying their slurry to their fields on a daily basis - rain, shine, winter, summer... unless the grass was growing and thriving (spring, summer, no rain), the stuff wasn't metabolized, and would run into the Bay. Legislation and regulation and government money provided for a great new innovation (so the environmentalists claimed), to make manure lagoons to hold the slurry. Joel managed to eventually get an interview with one of the higher-ups in this department, and showed him how they managed to hold onto their valuable manure until the pasture was ready to receive it - and without $50,000 worth of cement and steel. The guy admired Joel's system before explaining that there was no research money available to study something that was already working (huh?) and no grant money for the same thing. THEN he admitted that things were actually worse for the Bay... that the lagoons allowed farmer's to hold the slurry for up to six months before dealing with it. Which they DID - and usually only ended up taking care of the big mess during their down-time - winter. The WORST time to do it. Before, at least, they applied it hit-and-miss.. Some days were good. Now none of it was being applied at the right time. Why not repeal the whole thing? Impossible.
"The environmentalists won a huge victory with this program. How do you think they would look if they had to admit they'd caused more harm than good? And do you really think I can take on the entire scientific community at Virginia Tech? I'd be laughed out of town. And the politicians that passed the legislation - do you t\really think they will admit they made a mistake? They would look like fools to their constituents. Once a program starts, no matter whether it's working or not, the inertia to keep it going is stronger than anything else."
As much as anything else, Joel writes to compel people to question everything. If it has a government approval stamp, if the research was paid for with government money (or by someone who has an interest in the results), if a politician has an opinion on it - believe it at you own peril.
Joel challenges the "right" tendency to think bigger and faster = better, and the "left" tendency to assume that if someone is selling something, they're trying to rip you off.
He challenges the idea of "food safety" on both sides. It shouldn't be what the fat-cats say it is, the ones willing to wine and dine the politicians who make the regulations, and it shouldn't be what the 'government = savior' camp claims, either. Forget the paperwork, he pleads. Forget the pages and pages of how to do this, the temperature for that, the screens and windows and drains and inspections. Go to the end-game: Test the darn thing. If it tests clean, it's clean! Who cares if it was processed in someone's kitchen, or even dunked in the toilet, if it's CLEAN. But that's too simple. It's apparently not "safe" even if it tests clean... Safe only equals 'jumping through all the government-decreed hoops.' If it actually kills someone (E. coli recalls, anyone?), there was just a breakdown somewhere, that shouldn't have happened. Ya think? But - produce a clean product without those hoops? Well, that can't be safe.
Both sides are corrupt, and you can't trust a thing they say. Even if they're promoting something with good intentions, they're wrong. Foolish. Destructive.
He advocates for an "opt out" program (isn't that my dream world!?!). Sign a paper absolving both the government and any producers from liability, and retake the freedom to decide what you eat on your own terms. Take responsibility for your choices and gain the freedom to do so!
I love this guy.